Whistleblowers are the number one source of fraud detection across the world. In fact, whistleblowers are such an incredibly valuable tool in fraud detection, that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) give out millions of dollars in monetary rewards every year through their dedicated whistleblower programs to whistleblowers who report tax and securities fraud.
So why aren’t whistleblowers having a similar impact on another type of corruption fueled crime — wildlife trafficking?
The problem isn’t a lack of laws. In recognition of the effectiveness of working with whistleblowers in crime detection, Congress included whistleblower provisions in hundreds of laws including federal and state violations, from foreign government bribery to ocean pollution.
The only barrier preventing similar reporting and prosecution success rates for wildlife traffickers is the refusal of the responsible government agencies to implement these laws through a wildlife crime whistleblower program.
If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service replicated the SEC whistleblower program for wildlife crime whistleblowers, it would be a game-changer in the fight against the global wildlife trafficking trade. Here’s why:
People who want to do the right thing are protected.
Those who want to report global wildlife crimes currently have no confidential and effective process for doing so. A wildlife whistleblower program would enable people to safely and anonymously report valuable information to the appropriate authorities from anywhere in the world.
The monetary rewards incentivize other potential whistleblowers to come forward.
Once monetary rewards for wildlife crime whistleblowers become more commonplace, others will be motivated to report criminal activity. And since rewards are based on the value of the information provided, there is further incentive to gather solid and credible information.
Underground crime is exposed, which is almost undetectable by law enforcement alone.
Like other forms of trafficking including drugs, arms, and human, wildlife trafficking is deeply rooted in secrecy, corruption and bribery. Insiders provide crucial insight into how wildlife trafficking networks operate and enable law enforcement to effectively infiltrate criminal networks.
The illegal wildlife trade is wiping entire species from our planet, and causing irreparable damage to our biological ecosystems. The U.S. government has had the power to set up a wildlife crime whistleblower program to implement these laws for over thirty years! At this point we cannot afford to wait any longer. To combat wildlife trafficking we must ensure whistleblowers are empowered, protected and rewarded.
Watch the following video and learn more about how whistleblowers play a crucial role in stopping crime.
This article was first published by Care2.com on 23 Dec 2017.